Adopting a child can be one of the greatest gifts you can ever give both to yourself and the child waiting for a permanent home. Nearly 18,000 children are in foster care in Illinois, and more than 3,000 are waiting for an adoptive family.
The majority are school-age children, and several have siblings also waiting to be adopted. Over the past decade, more than 15,000 children experienced the love and security of a new home thanks to families adopting through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
Requirements for adoptive parents
While there are some basic stipulations, the state focuses on finding families and individuals who can provide a loving and stable home. Here are some guidelines:
- Prospective parents must have established residency for at least six months, although a court can waive this
- Must be at least 21 years old
- They can be married, single, divorced or separated
- Prior parenting experience is not required
- Must be able to support the child financially
- Must have adequate space for the child
- Can rent or own a home or apartment
How long does the process take?
The amount of time an adoption takes is different for each family or individual. Approval can happen in six months, but many cases take longer. Before finalizing an adoption, you must:
- Take part in a home inspection and a social assessment with a DCFS caseworker
- Become a licensed foster care provider
- Pass a criminal background check (this includes all family members)
- Finish 27 hours of foster care training
- Prove you are financially stable
- Submit to a health screening and have up-to-date vaccinations
Once you are a licensed foster care provider – which usually takes about two months – you can begin the process of meeting children up for adoption.
Why do I need an attorney?
Adopting a child is a joyous occasion for all parties involved. However, the legal process can be complicated, time-consuming and stressful. It’s advisable to work with an experienced adoption attorney who understands the process and can offer compassionate and efficient guidance.
Many children in the Illinois foster system come from situations where they were abused or neglected. If they are available for adoption, their birth parents’ rights have been terminated. Opening your heart and home to these children offer a life-changing experience.